What If God Wants Me to Fail?

It’s one of those thoughts we all have even though we’re pretty sure we shouldn’t. When we step out of the boat, it’s not that we believe God can’t answer our prayers. But what if, for reasons known only to Him, he chooses not to. What if God wants me to fail?

Job boldly put it out there: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)  I really don’t want to die. I don’t want to fail. Yet the Bible is full of faithful believers called to suffer: Job, Paul, Peter, Stephen — and countless millions of martyrs throughout history.

Now that I’m out of the boat, what if He chooses to let me drown for His greater glory? Will I be OK with that?

Would you?

There Is No Faith without the Risk of Failure

As most readers know, we’ve recently stepped out of the boat and into the unknown as we seek to build a life of ministry helping people grow by connecting real life with real faith.

It’s scary stuff. I start out pretty boldly each morning. But usually by lunch time, I’m feeling that anxious war within. And the one question that continues to nag at our souls as we pray for God to be glorified is this: I know He can but that doesn’t mean He will. After all, what makes me any better than all those other more faithful ones who perished in His service.

Now before some of you accuse me of being morose or depressed, we should also acknowledge the bountiful promises of God:

  • My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.   (Phil. 4:19)
  • Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.   (Matthew 6:31-33)
  • Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Matthew 11:24)

Both messages come from Scripture. God is good. Always. And sometimes he chooses to let us fail. So we’re left to reconcile these two as best we can. We pray boldly while we prepare our hearts for His sovereign answers.

A Few Tips to Keep Our Focus

Here are a few steps I’ve found while on this faith journey. Maybe they can be of help to you:

  • Seek God’s Glory Alone. It’s only when we truly desire His best that we can truly say, “He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  When we reach that place of humility before Him, one is truly just as acceptable as the other. I’m not saying I have arrived, just that we should all be trying to get there.
  • Ask in Faith without Doubting. Why? We’re told to do it. ”Let him ask in faith, with no doubting.” (James 1:6)  The asking is our task. The answering is God’s. All too often we assume his role in the process then wonder why we feel overwhelmed. We forget too quickly that it is God’s glory on the line — not ours — when His people are in need.
  • Pray Big Prayers. My friend P. Andrew Sandlin keeps reminding me of this need, though I confess I struggle to understand all it means. I know it means to go boldly before the throne of grace and “claim the crown, through Christ, my own.” But it also means my prayers must be about the Big Kingdom picture and not just about my petty needs.
  • Train Yourself to Surrender. Paul warns us that we’ll get a good workout becoming godly. He wasn’t kidding. Often it’s laying down our own pride that takes the most diligent effort. Start by making it a morning habit to crucify yourself, take up your cross, and follow.
  • Ever Be Willing to Answer “Yes.” What if He does chooses to let you fail, will you still trust Him? That is the question He wants answered. Do you trust Him enough to lay your future on the altar and lift the knife in obedience to Him? What if he doesn’t provide a substitute? When the temptation comes to draw back in fear — for that is what it is — will you hold to who He is or flee to who you think you are?

I wonder sometimes if Abraham told Sara about God’s call to sacrifice Isaac — the future of their family. If he did, how did she handle it? I tend to think he kept it to himself. I understand why. It’s hard to let God strip us of who we think we are. But it’s only through the testing that we become as gold. The fires of faith make us jewels fit for the King. There is no other way to be found worthy of the high calling that is in Christ Jesus.

Maybe you’re trying to do too much. Stand down. And watch God step up — or not. It’s His glory. It’s His world. It’s His call.

And we must be OK with that.

Lest that stark reality tempt you to lose heart:

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chron. 16:9 NKJV)

God is constantly on the prowl for the chance to show His power on behalf of those who are willing to answer simply: “Yes.”

No matter what.

Do you ever struggle with the fear of following Christ into the unknown? What thoughts do you have about this tension that comes from surrendering yourself completely to the outcome of God’s choosing? Share your story or comment here to help us all grow.

photo by: The 5th Ape

12 Responses to “What If God Wants Me to Fail?”

  1. TCAvey September 10, 2012 at 8:54 AM #

    I don’t think Abraham told Sara, no way she would let him go!

    God’s been speaking to me about this lately. This Sunday our sermon was about our focus. We used Isaiah 43:18-19.

    God is doing new things in us! How great is that!

    • Bill Blankschaen September 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM #

      He makes all things new, indeed! Great reminder.

  2. Paul Juby September 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM #

    So few people know that no matter what, God is with you. Even in your failures- the failures are to teach us something! God may not answer your prayers in the way you see fit, but He answers them, always.

    • Bill Blankschaen September 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM #

      Paul, It’s almost as if we only think God answered if things turn out the way we wanted them to turn out. It’s as if we have become as gods …. sounds familiar.

      Thanks for the good comment!

  3. Jennifer September 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM #

    Interesting. I’ve never really thought of God as as a micro-manager, granting my successes or allowing my failures. I picture Him more as plopping us down in this wonderful Universe He’s created and letting us make our own way (maybe with some divine guidance if we know to ask for it) in the glorious messiness of life. How will we follow Him? What do we do with our successes? How do we respond to failure? Can we trust in the grace of God even if (when!) things don’t go as we’ve planned or if we experience great tragedy. Can we trust that He will provide all that we need even if we, ourselves, don’t know what we truly need?

    Someone sent me a link to a book today: Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. It looks interesting.
    ( http://www.thehighcalling.org/work/experimenting-experience-excerpt-hazardous-committing-cost-following-jesus )

    “We want the joy, peace and assurance of a comforting Savior, forgetting that gaining what is most precious requires letting go of what is less important.”

    • Bill Blankschaen September 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM #

      What a great quotation! And The High Calling is a great site!!

      I don’t thin of God a samicro-manager per se, but “He can’t plan the ends and not plan the means.” What blows me away is that God is so sovereign that He makes even our decisions freely made to work for His glory.

  4. TCAvey September 10, 2012 at 7:13 PM #

    God lead me to re-read your post.
    This time he really pointed out that it’s HIS glory and I need to step down from trying to get to the finish line, let Him be God and get me there in HIS timing and in HIS way.

    Thanks so much.

    • Bill Blankschaen September 10, 2012 at 10:04 PM #

      Amen! You’re welcome for whatever part He saw fit to have me play.

  5. Harold Friesn September 10, 2012 at 10:49 PM #

    I really appreciate the way you presented this. I am learning to walk be Faith. To trust when you do not know whether you will fail or He will provide a way that would make sense to me:) Is it ever hard but yet there is a deep peace that God knows what He needs to do to get my attention. Keep on the journey!!

    • Bill Blankschaen September 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM #

      Harold, Join the club of fledgling faith-walkers. This seems to be where we hang out! This year I have come to know and appreciate that deep peace that passes all understanding. Let’ skeep on the journey together. I shared some of these thougths with friends at Equip Leadership today. Look for a follow-up piece with what I think are some more answers to this question.


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